Three North Korean refugees share extraordinary stories about their life in North Korea, their journey towards freedom, and the adventures that followed. The speakers are brought to you by Freedom Speakers International, a South Korea based NGO whose mission is to empower North Korean refugees through public speaking.
Youngnam Eom (North Korean refugee speaker)
After serving in the North Korean military for a decade, Youngnam Eom escaped from North Korea in 2010. He is a rare graduate of both a North Korean University and a South Korean graduate school. In 2000, he graduated from a North Korean University with a degree in railway operations. In 2019 he graduated from Korea University in South Korea with a master’s degree in Public Administration. In his upcoming book- The Strongest Solider in North Korea he introduces the lives of North Korean soldiers. During his talk at Oxford, he can also discuss his thesis that had first-hand interviews with North Korean refugees in Korean about their interaction with media. In 2015, he joined Freedom Speakers International as both a public speaker and English language student. In 2019, he spoke at conferences at Harvard and Princeton Universities.
Eunju Kim (North Korean refugee speaker)
Eunju Kim first escaped from North Korea in the late 1990s along with her mother and sister, but she and her mother were repatriated to North Korea. They later escaped again, making it to freedom in South Korea in 2008. Her memoir, A Thousand Miles to Freedom, has been published in seven languages, including French (2012) and English (2015). She has worked with numerous organizations to help North Korean refugees adjust to life in South Korea She would give a speech about her experiences in North Korea, escape, and share background information about youth in North Korea. She is now a graduate student studying sociology at Korea University.
She first joined Freedom Speakers International (FSI) in June 2014 as an English language student and in February 2015, she was the winner of FSI’s 3rd English Speech Contest. She joined FSI’s North Korean Refugee Keynote Speakers Network when it was formed in late 2020 and is the organization’s first North Korea Communications Specialist.
Taehee Kim (North Korean refugee speaker)
Taehee Kim escaped from North Korea in 1997 and escaped to South Korea in 2007. During the decade that she lived in China, she was repatriated to North Korea four different times. She is now the director of ‘North Korean Refugee Solidarity for Liberty and Human Rights. In 2019 she donated her part of kidney to a female North Korean refugee. In 2023, she was an operations director of the 3rd Seoul Larkspur International Film Festival focused on North Korean human rights movies and documentaries. She can share her own escape story and how she raises awareness about North Korea and North Korean refugees through media.
Casey Lartigue Jr. (Freedom Speakers International, Chairman and co-founder)
Casey Lartigue is an American with two decades of experience empowering marginalized people. After graduating from the Harvard University Extension School, he earned a master’s degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education where he began focusing on improving access to quality education opportunities for low-income people. He began his professional career as an education policy analyst at the Cato Institute and is co-editor of the 2004 book Educational Freedom in Urban America: Half a Century after Brown v. Board of Education.
He is co-author with North Korean refugee Songmi Han of her memoir Greenlight to Freedom: A North Korean Daughter’s Search for Her Mother and Herself.He is the chairman and is co-founder with South Korean researcher Eunkoo Lee of Freedom Speakers International (FSI), the Seoul-based NGO that has empowered more than 500 North Korean refugees with English language tutoring, public speaking and career development.
He would speak about reasons that North Korean refugees engage in public speaking and FSI’s experience over the past decade empowering and mentoring North Korean refugees.